Going Seasonal at Café Rouge

It’s 5pm on a February Monday, and you have a rare opportunity to eat out. However, you’re catering for three people at very different places on the ‘likes to try different foods’ spectrum. Where to dine?

Our varying appetites took us to French-inspired Café Rouge, on Edinburgh’s Frederick Street.  It’s many years since I last tasted a croque-monsieur here and it’s even more since I was in France, but the twilight ambience, the bistro décor and an empty restaurant (that soon changed) save for two elegant women at a corner table drinking red wine, took me right back to the days I was a student in Paris.

At the beginning of this month, Café Rouge launched a new seasonal set menu, incorporating twists on classic French dishes. Among the starters, a hearty Soupe de Campagne (potato, carrot, haricot beans, leeks and Savoy cabbage); Potted Mackerel Pâté; and Pork Rilletes.  After that, Boeuf Parmentier, Moules or Steak Frites, Toulouse Sausage, and a Roast Vegetable Tartine comprise the mains.

The least adventurous eater amongst us was persuaded to try to the pork rilletes (‘pate by any other name’ convinced her) and the boeuf parmentier (‘French-style cottage pie’) and really enjoyed both of them. The pork rillettes came with a tasty chutney, and the braised beef was rich and warming.

The seven year old chose from a fairly standard Children’s Menu, but his burger was far superior to many of the flat but flabby-looking patties often deemed good enough for smaller diners: moist, thick and nicely – but not scarily – seasoned.

As well as shamelessly picking at all of these dishes (all in the name of research, obviously) I went fishy with the smoked mackerel pate, and the mussels in their creamy white wine sauce – both delicious.

Rather than watch Mr Seven gleefully mix up chocolate ice-cream with a side of jelly beans, we shared our own pudding:  a Torte Au Chocolat. It looked gorgeous, the centre of it was lovely and chocolately, but the outer ring was overcooked to the texture of dry cake – not bad but disappointingly like I’d make at home. We could have gone for Apple & Blackberry Crumble or a Rum Baba. Next time we’ll do just that.

There will be a next time. It was an enjoyable, relaxed evening of good, comforting yet still stylish food, and excellent service from Marcela and Tatiana.

Café Rouge is one of 77 restaurants nationwide and still manages to feel like a one-off.


The seasonal set menu is £11.50 for two courses (£2 supplement for the steak) with desserts at £3.50. (There’s also an extensive a la carte from breakfast til evening). The children’s menu is £6.95 for 3 courses and a drink.

Café Rouge, 43 Frederick Street, Edinburgh.

Open daily from 7.30am through to late evening.



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